Written by Martin Montejano
The days are getting longer and the weather is warming up. It’s almost that time of year where the transition away from colder days breathes new life into nature. Along with that, we move closer to those afternoons of watching a trout snatch a fly off the top of the water, inciting the excitement that we all seek. While we may not be there just yet, we keep our eyes on the creek, ready and waiting to cast some kebari onto the water.
This video has no fishing in it, at all.
But I thought you would enjoy the video I just created. Yesterday morning, at the last day of our 3-week long book tour, I woke up in the tenkaravan next to a gorgeous forest. Those who know me will remember foraging is right up there with tenkara in terms of things I love doing. As I had coffee I felt inspired to go foraging and to film it all. Hope you enjoy it.
Mushroom Walk – by Tenkara USA
Here’s a very nice video created by Clay Hayes for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Clay goes out tenkara fishing and foraging in Idaho.
Sorry I have been very absent from posting recently. Right now I’m in the middle of a very large writing project that is consuming a lot of my time and just about all of my brain power. The business is keeping me very busy when not writing. And, when I can, I have been fishing to support the large writing project and future blog posts. But, those are just excuses! I thought you’d enjoy a few images we captured recently. Some tenkara inspiration in case you can’t go fishing right now. I have been active on our Instagram page, so please follow that if you don’t yet. More blog posts to come in the future, I promise.
A large brown trout is released in healthy condition. Image by Doug Heggart.
A double tenkara hookup in Wyoming.
A rainbow kisses the water
“Elegance is achieved when, having discarded all superfluous things, we discover simplicity and concentration. The simpler the pose, the better; the more sober, the more beautiful.” Paulo Coelho.
Long exposure to fishing is good for the soul
a rainbow tail
fishing among araucaria trees in Argentina
a great fighter caught on the North Platte in Wyoming
I spend a lot of time in streams of different types. My favorite thing about stream fishing is all the curves they present, that makes it so that every few steps there will be a different view. Yet, I admit, I don’t think I ever wondered “why do rivers bend rather than go straight?” Yesterday I ran across this cool little video that answers the question I never asked but probably always wanted to know.
Trout Unlimited (TU) is an organization we have supported from our inception. Their mission is “to conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.” For over 5 years we have continued supporting them with almost our entire 1% for the Planet commitment going to them. And, there are some superb changes happening at TU that will help spread their mission word widely. They just re-faced their website, and also just hired someone to be in charge of their video story-telling campaign (I had the pleasure of meeting him the other day and I know he will do wonders for the awareness of Trout Unlimited). These are important elements when one is trying to tell a story effectively.
The latest campaign they released is the “Ten Special Places”, which “looks at places where expanding natural gas drilling operations in the East could pose risks to fishing and hunting opportunities, and offers recommendations on what sportsmen and women can do to promote responsible energy development and ensure the protection of these areas.”
One of these places is the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, in the central Appalachian Mountains. That’s where we held our 2013 Tenkara Summit and it’s home to some beautiful brook trout. They made a beautiful video of the area and the challenges it faces. And, we’re happy they featured tenkara in it!
One of the messages I want to spread far and wide through tenkara is that you don’t have to be a fisherman to fish, nor do you have to go on a dedicated fishing trip to enjoy fishing. Fly-fishing, and more specifically tenkara, can go with any activity you choose to enjoy.
This past weekend I put a couple of tenkara rods and some climbing equipment in my pack and flew to North Carolina to explore some canyons with the guys of Pura Vida Adventures. The canyons were expected to have plenty of water, and thus fish. The idea was to fish as time allowed and hopefully catch some of their purely wild and native brook trout. The beautiful thing about tenkara’s simplicity is that it can go with anything. And the beautiful thing about its minimal and portable nature is that it doesn’t take long to setup and fish along the way. That’s the idea of TENKARA+, tenkara plus ANYTHING.
After more than two months of attending a fly-fishing show nearly everywhere weekend, I have decided to go on a long-overdue vacation. Since moving inland to Colorado and becoming landlocked, once in a while I have missed the ocean, more specifically I have missed surfing, a sport I have enjoyed since I was 7. Don’t get me wrong, I chose to move and be closer to mountains, and I absolutely love living there. But how nice would it be if I could not only tenkara and climb when I want to, but also surf without having to fly to Nicaragua?
So, when I saw this video the other day, with Will Farrell and surf champion Kelly Slater advocating to move the ocean I couldn’t help but dream a little. And, laugh quite a bit.
But this is also a very serious message and I thought it should be shared here. The Colorado river no longer flows to its delta and the ocean. That is a very serious issue for the wildlife as well as the people who live downstream on it and no longer get much water. Checkout http://raisetheriver.org
Forgiving Boulder Creek is a story written by Sasha Barajas about her discovery of tenkara and renewed connection with Boulder Creek, which was subject to alarming floods last year. It is a feature story in the first Tenkara Magazine. The story has been receiving great feedback and we thought you’d enjoy reading it. Photographs by Kate Mason
Forgiving Boulder Creek
About a quarter-mile from the hustle and bustle of downtown Boulder, Colorado runs a small creek. In the heat of the summer giggles are frequently heard as children wade in the water and college students aboard black tire tubes float by. This autumn, with several days of heavy rain, the creek grew to monstrous proportions, enveloping the landscape and ravaging our mountain town.
Just one month later the creek runs swiftly within its previously defined banks. Although we have resumed biking, running, and skateboarding along the winding Boulder Creek Path, for many of us our relationship with the creek is still on the bedrocks. Continue reading
The non-profit organization Wild Trout Trust is holding an auction with some items that may be of interest to the tenkara angler. The auction will be happening from March 4-13 via Ebay, so international bidders and supporters of their organization can easily participate. Tenkara USA is a staunch supporter of the Wild Trout Trust.
From their site: “The annual auction is the most important fundraising event for us. It raises vital funds which we use to deliver practical advice and habitat work, inspiring and helping people to protect wild trout. Click here to see how we use the funds raised in the auction.”
Below are a couple of items that were donated by Dr. Ishigaki for the auction.
We have put out a lot of videos since our inception in 2009. 88 to be exact. Here are 5 videos we think you must watch to learn tenkara, tenkara fly-tying, or just for your entertainment as the cold weather sets in:
1) How to cast with tenkara:
2) Tenkara Techniques:
3) Tenkara Pronunciation Guide:
4) Tenkara Knots:
4B) You may also want to watch this video on my “one knot”, used for tippet to level line and fly to tippet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eemGKr-GYrE
5) How to tie a tenkara fly:
6) Landing a larger fish on tenkara and long line:
7) Tenkara and Canyoneering
Just got back from fishing and had to share a couple of nice pictures with you. No point I want to make here except that fishing is pretty darn fun!
Here’s Salome with one of her first trout. The colors on that trout were just gorgeous.
As we left the stream today we were blessed with a super view of a large full moon coming out from the horizon, perfectly in line with the mouth of the canyon. These are photos that show us why we go fishing whenever we can. Hope you’ve been enjoying it recently.
When I caught this trout three years ago I was ecstatic. It was my first visit to Colorado. I had heard they had a very exquisite trout that was native to the state and could only be found on a few streams and lakes here. It was the greenback cutthroat. So I went looking for them. I found a stream that was known to have them and must have caught 20+ “greenbacks”. It felt good to know there was a thriving population of those fish. They were gorgeous; and, to me they served as a physical reminder of one reason Tenkara USA exists, which is to help care for environments where trout are found.
Lo and behold it turned out these were not actually greenback cutthroat as I and everyone else thought at the time. Through recent genetic testing it was discovered that the trout I caught on that trip were actually West Slope Cutthroats, a fish that, to the naked eye is actually identical to the greenbacks (which is why it took so long to discover this).
The fact they were not greenbacks did not diminish my memories nor the beauty of these fish. But, what I later discovered alarmed me a bit: there are only about 750 pure greenback cutthroat left in the world! And, they can only be found on Bear Creek, which has been called a “pity of a stream” due to the real threats it faces with erosion-prone soil, poor trails, and real human threats.
I would like to ask you for your help in protecting these 750 fish left in the wild. An Indiegogo campaign was just launched with the aim of raising money to work directly on protecting these fish. Tenkara USA has taken particular interest in this cause because it is a fish native to our new home of Colorado, but this should not mean that if you don’t live in Colorado you shouldn’t help. This project is being undertaken by a Trout Unlimited group called The Greenbacks, but I think it serves as a great example of the things that can be accomplished in protecting fish and fish habitat anywhere. It is the type of project that serves to inspire groups in other parts of the country and could be a model to future fish habitat and protection projects.
Please visit the 1of750.com website for more info and check out the Indiegogo campaign to pledge some money. You can get a Tenkara USA set (I’ll be changing my donation from the Iwana that is advertised to any Tenkara USA rod, including a new one that will be released soon); a Vedavoo pack with the Greenback patch, or a trip with me.
I decided to let the images speak for themselves in this video of an epic adventure this week. I think there are few places in the world that you can combine epic “shower climbing” as they call it here (or sawanobori) and fishing. Luckily Japan has an abundance of it. And, even more luckily Japan also has an abundance of onsen, or hot-springs, which can come in very handy when you’ve been swimming in 40 degree water all day.
P.S. I’m contemplating hosting a small group trip to Japan in 2014. This would be an opportunity to learn from some of my teachers as well as do a combo “shower climbing/tenkara” adventure trip. Let me know if that could be of interest. I’m still very much on the fence about doing it, as I’m used to traveling by myself, but this is something I’d love to share with those truly interested.
I was inspired by the story written by Sebata-san, Go Deeper Upstream with Skill. I enjoyed learning his story, where Sebata-san describes how he learned tenkara, and also the “secret” of tenkara: ” “Ah ha, I need to slow down by one breath. This is the secret of tenkara fishing”, he says. But, what really inspired me was how we went deeper, and took the time to describes what makes the tenkara experience whole, for him at least.
Since I was a little kid I have been a bit of a forager. My parents instilled the interest in “free foods” found in nature by stopping on the side of the road to take fruit they spotted while driving. Guavas were my favorite. But my parents were not much of the wild foraging type though, it was more of a drive-through foraging experience with them. My grandfather, on the other hand, would take me on walks in the woods and show me the use for every plant we came across. Unfortunately the knowledge did not stick; luckily, curiosity did.
Mushrooms were the one thing neither my parents nor my grandfather ever touched. Like most people in Brazil, where I grew up, and here in the USA, my family was afraid of mushrooms and figured it would be best to not touch them.
Sometimes I like to go deeper upstream too. When I found tenkara, I thought it would be a perfect complement to my backpacking trips, and that’s a big part of the reason I fell in love with it. As I strived to remain ultra-light, I figured the 7 oz kit of a tenkara rod, line and some flies could even replace the need to bring much food with me; I would supplement my diet with freshly caught trout. I tried learning about edible plants while living in California, and occasionally would come across something I could use, but on the drier Sierra Nevada we didn’t get nearly as much wild mountain vegetables as Mr. Sebata can find in Japan.
This year I decided to really delve in the world of mushrooms and edible plants. I have been studying every mushroom I find, and joining a local group of some mushroom forays. I have also been trying to learn at least one new plant every time I go for a hike, which is pretty much every morning with my dog. I spend a lot of time outside, so I figured I should learn more about what I can eat should I come across it or should I ever need it.
Today, Margaret and I decided to go deeper into the mountains…to acquire more skill in finding and identifying mushrooms, more specifically with an interest in finding the prized boletes that are coming up now and can be a great addition to meals in future trips.
Mushroom hunting was the primary objective of today’s trip. So, when I came across a stream, I initially didn’t think of fishing at all, we had the dog along (not the best fishing dog in the world) and I was focused on the task at hand. But, then I remembered the stream that I was staring at was a brook trout stream. You see, brook trout are an invasive species to these areas, and even though I am a mostly catch-and-release angler, it’s really not a bad thing to take some brook trout home. There is even a blog called “Eat More Brook Trout”. Plus, if we found some mushrooms most certainly we would go home and cook them, but mushrooms alone don’t make a complete meal. So I armed the tenkara rod and proceeded to catch as many trout as we needed for a complete foraged meal of mushrooms and trout.
Talking of a meal, it’s time for me to shut the computer down and cook today’s bounty. Luckily Sebata-san already wrote the conclusion I’m trying to make with this story:
“Tenkara fishing is very simple, which makes me feel I am a part of the mountains. If you want to submerge yourself deep in nature, it is the best fishing style. But just through the act of fishing, we won’t be able to enjoy real thrill and joy of tenkara fishing. Fishing becomes much more fun by experiencing the joy of being able to be a part of nature and learning something new in nature.”